This season’s Fashion East show took place at 50 St James, an address the gamblers among you might recognise as that of a former casino. Was Fashion’s fairy godmother Lulu Kennedy feeling lucky? No reason why she shouldn’t, with her track record of hitting the jackpot with more than a few of the young designers she’s nurtured.
If any bets were taken (the casino puns will stop now, I promise!) they concerned the format of the show. As we entered the venue we faced two choices; turn left for Ryan Lo’s static presentation or right for Claire Barrow’s. And once you’ve seen both, up the grand staircase, giant chandelier and all, for the Maarten van der Horst show. Why not a show for each? We’re not sure, but the presentations worked, once you pushed your way to the front for a closer look.
Ryan Lo’s room resembled the aftermath of a pink tinsel explosion and if that didn’t put a smile on your face I’m not sure what would. Pink (the colour, not the pop star) was everywhere; on froufrou fur, on a sequinned-to-(a happy)-death skirt, long to the calf, and on a ball-gown, tulle bow included, made for Prom. Lo’s notes mentioned references as disparate as 'a Lacroix show-ending bride' to 'a Wang Kar-Wai screen siren' and they were all there, seen through the eyes of a pre-teen girl whose scrapbook is most likely covered in glitter and whose favourite movie is Pretty in Pink.
Claire Barrow, on the other hand, got the bar area, a choice appropriate for a collection influenced by alcohol. Going from Lo’s room to Barrow’s was like watching that same girl discover punk – and Sharpies! Barrow is known for her hand-painted motorcycle leather jackets (Rihanna wore one on her last album cover) and there were a couple here, this time in patent black or cropped short on a guy. The scribbled faces on a white cotton tee and skirt looked like they had had quite a few to drink and the word ‘tequila’ on a whiskey gold paper shirt more than hinted at a good party. The kind where you wake up the next morning only to find your favourite tee defaced. Kids, hey?
So, on to the show. Van der Horst has had fun with print before but the classic Hawaiian prints gave way to…classic Tesco carrier bags? Yep, you read that right. The red and blue supermarket logo had its fashion moment today, opening the show on a sleeveless jacket and reappearing again and again taking over an entire look, scarf-included. This was Horst’s ‘American Beauty’ moment; Sam Mendes made a humble plastic bag, floating away, look meaningful and Horst made it look fun. The rest of the collection was a print mash-up; from zebra to leopard print, often combined with banker-style pinstripes and metallic patches. Horst collaborated with Swarovski for the first time so classic trench coats featured sequin-encrusted bats whereas a UPS-style shirt and Bermuda shorts got the shark treatment. The message here, kids? Recycle.